Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

It's All about the WIGS in 'Hairspray'

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

It's All about the WIGS in 'Hairspray'

Article excerpt

By the time she gets to the finale of "Hairspray" at Florida Studio Theatre, Jennifer Theriot may be feeling a little weighed down.

During the song "You Can't Stop the Beat," Theriot is wearing her fourth wig of the night, a heavy duty 'do that reaches more than a foot high.

"I feel like I'm balancing my hair while I'm dancing," said Theriot, an ensemble member who plays four different roles in the production. "Even though I'm used to it, I still get nervous. It's a challenge. In rehearsal, I felt all kinds of free moving on the stage and when I got the wig, I realized I couldn't do everything I could before. It's an adjustment."

Adjustments are a major part of a musical like "Hairspray," set in 1962 Baltimore. The female characters talk about teasing their hair into ever- increasing heights.

In reality, three people work backstage between shows to make sure those wigs look their freshest, perkiest and tallest.

It's a time-consuming process for wig stylist Audrey Bernardin, who said she spends an average of five hours each day, reshaping the waves and curls, and making sure the stray hairs are sprayed back into place.

As befits a show called "Hairspray," there's always a can nearby when Bernardin and her colleagues are working on the wigs, though she said the wigs can take only so much of the spray.

"Sometimes, I spray rubbing alcohol on them, which reactivates the hair spray already in there," she said.

Bernardin spends a lot of her time with wigs, usually at the Sarasota Opera, where she is a wig assistant during the season. As a child, she was initially interested in pursuing a costume design career, but during a backstage visit to the Sarasota Opera's costume and wig department when she was a teenager, she became fascinated by wigs.

On "Hairspray," Bernardin is assisted by Fred Werling and Theriot's fellow cast member Kristopher Stanley Ward. …

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